AHRC seminar: EMBODIED EMOTIONS: History, Performance, Education

I’m just off to London to speak at an AHRC seminar: Embodied emotions – history, performance, education.

My thinking related to the seminar is that the increased interest in emotion in education may be fuelled by two strands. Firstly there is the political dimension of being seen to promote well being. The important part here is the ‘being seen’ to promote as many of the strategies for wellbeing are not really about ‘wellbeing’ but  are about promotion of a common morality and a notion of what happiness may mean. Equally it is also about normalising of behaviour and increasing attendance and attainment. This is not to suggest that such aims are poor aims – just that the lack of transparncy and the use of wellbing as a vehicle may be misleading.

The second strand is that the interest, from the ground up, may be seen as a means to recapturing a child centred education. The legitimising of emotions creates a space to recapture something that has been lost in the change from education to schooling.

The missing element however, is something that is central to emotional literacy and is the opposite the often misdirected therapeutic education. This is the recognition of cognition and emotion. The fallibility of human thinking and evolutionary flaws in our brains. Such posthumanist thinking acknowledges the illusions created by our emotions and wrestles with what this may mean. This is perhaps where efforts in ’emotional literacy’ should be placed – in developing a vocabulary  and understanding ( a literacy) of posthumanism and the implications, ethics and values associated with cognitive and emotional enhancements leading to new forms of transhumanism.


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